Yesterday’s remarks by the Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also the education minister , that he cannot act against the racist principals has come as a shock to many Malaysians who have been waiting for government’s actions against the culprits.
On August 27, Prime Minister Datuk Sri Najib said that the Government will not hesitate to take action against anyone who makes racist remarks or fuels racism in the country.
"Our stand is that we do not tolerate racist remarks by anyone and action will be taken against them,” Najib said in a dialogue at the Barisan Nasional Youth Lab programme in Kuala Lumpur City Hall Auditorium.
Early this month, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin himself has reiterated the government’s “zero-tolerance” policy towards racism.
However, till today, no action has been taken against the two school heads who were alleged to make racist remarks against the students.
On Aug 12, Siti Aishah Mansor, the school principal of SMK Tunku Abdual Rahamn Putra from Kulaijaya, Johor, was allegedly to have used racist remarks against non-Malay students during the launch of the school’s Merdeka celebrations.
It was reported that she allegedly told the school assembly that the Chinese could go back to China and that the Indians looked like “dogs” when they wore their prayer strings.
In another incident which happened last month , Ungku Aznan Ungku Ismail, the principal of SMK Bukit Selambau was also alleged to have uttered “Balik Cina” remarks against Chinese students.
It was already disappointing enough when the Prime Minister and his deputy did not immediately slam the principals for their remarks.
Yet the deputy prime minister has come out to say that he cannot act against the racist principals.
His remarks were more disappointing and would also give the message that the government was not taking the racism issue with the utmost seriousness that the issue deserves.
Surely the Cabinet, the Prime Minister or his deputy can direct Public Service Department which is the relevant enforcement authority to take the necessary action.
If the government is serious about zero tolerance towards racism, there is no excuse for any delayed action against those found guilty of being racist.
Although the deputy prime minister has explained the delay in taking the necessary action as a question of jurisdiction, it hardly convinces anyone.
The whole question is whether the government is truly committed to its declaration that there must be zero tolerance towards racism.
If it is committed, then there must be political will which will translate into swift, firm and decisive actions against the culprits.
It is therefore a question of political will, not a question of jurisdiction.
Actions speak louder than words. Government’s “zero tolerance towards racism” declaration must not end up as a mere slogan.